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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

It’s not just “the economy”

Economy, Midwest Airlines

When you get bad news and the shoulder shrug, well, sure, it’s “the economy.” It's also something more. Barring natural disasters, flood and drought and the like, “just the economy” is often an excuse that lets someone—an individual or a corporate body—off the hook.

The excuse hides the big uglies: greed and deceit. But even more often, it hides the commonplace ones. "Really bad decision-making,” including when it comes to voting, is one we can all  own now and then.

If defrocked McCain advisor Phil Gramm really meant the “the leaders” when he said we’ve “sort of become a nation of whiners,” then I’m with him. Don’t hear anyone taking responsibility for bad policy or no policy, neglecting to get the right information, bad judgment and all the other failures of leadership, do you?

Two more failures really matter: lack of courage and imagination.

Take Midwest Airlines. Go ahead: no one else wants to right now. When things got bad, did it set out to distinguish itself from other airlines that were serving up deteriorating service?

Nope. It jumped right in to join the race to the bottom, or what’s more generously called “adopting a survival strategy.” After all, almost everybody else is doing it, according to Stealing Share, a marketing firm, in their study of American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, and United airlines.

The key word is “almost.” The airlines that are bucking the trend to advertise relentlessly what they all do equally badly (checking bags, being on time) are doing better. Southwest, the #1 airline, posted its 68th straight profitable quarter in the beginning of 2008. They did it on actually costing less, not just claiming to, and selling freedom, not just transportation.

The others, you can’t tell apart even with a scorecard. “Worse than before, same as the other guys, and a lot less of it!” Welcome aboard the bandwagon, Midwest!

The marketers say that especially when the economy’s rough, you have to change the game. Think outside the box. Or maybe back in, if the box holds cookies and the best care in the air. People's lives and the community are at stake.

The economy, like Pogo's enemy, is us.

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